Off Topic > General Discussion

Boeing Starliner

(1/10) > >>

Jeff Raven:
Is it time to (finally) consider pulling the plug on this project? It's not just years behind schedule and over budget, but now it's back to the shop for more repairs. I am not an engineer, and therefore my reaction is gut based rather than informed, and I welcome any corrections on that.  That said, the fact that Boeing admits that some of the moisture which led to the issue with the valves could have simply been due to the humid Florida weather, and that this wasn't already accounted for, seems, well, pathetic.  I'm sure this is oversimplified, but to not account for the fact that Florida has humid weather would be like building something in McMurdo Station but not insulating it against cold.  If this is actually what happened, that they messed up something so basic, how can NASA (or anyone) be confident that they got the more complicated things right?

Pulling the plug on Starliner means SpaceX is the sole US ride to the ISS until it is decommissioned. Which may wind up being the case anyway if Boeing takes another couple of years to fix this issue. The next earliest opportunity is November, but I suspect they won’t make that.  God knows what other nasties are still lurking. Note that Boeing doesn’t get paid until they meet this milestone - they’re paying for this second test out of their own pocket.  If this test fails, I’m not sure they wouldn’t pull the plug themselves. 

I will say this feels like a more "normal" issue with new vehicle development than pulling the wrong value for MET from the booster and screwing up your thruster programming.  But it ain’t awesome. Thank God they caught it on the ground. 

I’m just hoping this was a process issue, not a design or manufacturing issue. 

As far as NASA is concerned, Starliner is still closer to being a working second spacecraft than any other option. And on Boeing's part, giving up now will not save them money or win them future contracts.

Yeah, ditching Starliner and going with something like Dreamchaser just pushes everything back several more years, and there aren't that many years left in the ISS.  Boeing will likely make it there by 2022, SNC wouldn't get there before 2024, and that's if they can figure out how to launch a manned variant that doesn't require riding in a fairing. 

Again, this delay and the reason for it is bad, but it's not stupid like the software errors in OFT-1.  I feel like they can get this worked out, if not by November, then by early 2022. 

But they had better go over that thing with a fine-toothed comb before stacking it again.  If nothing else purge those lines properly. 

In this particular race there are actually lots of points for second place.  However, after the dismal failure of OFT-1, OFT-2 was seen by many as a highly crucial mission in terms of Boeing's credibility.  This might be a nail in the coffin of the old funding model.  The ship will fly, but it's definitely going to change how NASA and Boeing do business moving forward.

I think I said it before, but Boeing isn't the same company I started doing business with back in the 1990s, and not even in the same ballpark as the company that it was back in the 1960s.  They've largely given up on what made them successful in the past.  My brother-in-law just started there as a software engineer, but he's in the commercial airframe side of the business.  We'll see what he reports about ongoing company culture.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version